Canada’s recently announced student benefit program – how will it work?
May 14, 2020 Read Time: 3 minutes
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Nelligan Law gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Melanie Sutton, student-at-law, in writing this blog post.

Over the past month, the federal government has provided financial assistance to many Canadians whose jobs and businesses have been affected by measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now they are extending support to students, too.

On April 22, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new financial aid program, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), to assist post-secondary students who are without jobs this summer and would not otherwise qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Students who are eligible for the CERB can continue to apply to that program.

Who is eligible for the CESB?

You are eligible to apply for CESB if you are making $1,000 per month or less in May through August and you fall into one of the following categories:

  • You were enrolled in post-secondary studies this year,
  • You graduated in December 2019, or
  • You are starting post-secondary studies in September.

The CESB will provide eligible students with a monthly benefit of $1,250 per month from May through August.

How much money will I get from the CESB?

The CESB will provide eligible students with a monthly benefit of $1,250 per month from May through August. If you have dependents you will receive $1,750 per month for the same period.

How do I apply?

On May 13, 2020, Justin Trudeau announced that students will be able be begin applying for CESB on Friday, May 15, 2020, through the CRA website. In the meantime, you should setup your CRA My Account, if you have not yet done so, to ensure you are ready when applications become available.

If you are applying on the basis that you are looking for work but unable to find it, you may be required to attest, in your application, that you are actively seeking employment opportunities.

All applications for CESB must be submitted before September 30, 2020 and benefits paid will be only for the period from May 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020.

Should I apply for CERB or CESB?

The CESB is designed to assist students who do not qualify for CERB. If you are eligible for CERB, you can still apply for benefits through that program, instead of the CESB. You cannot receive both benefits.

The CERB provides up to $2,000 per month to eligible Canadians. If you earned over $5,000 in 2019 or in the past 12 months and

  • have stopped working due to COVID-19,
  • are working reduced hours and making less than $1,000/month,
  • have recently exhausted your EI benefits, or
  • were expecting seasonal work that is now not available,you may be eligible to apply for CERB. For more information about the CERB program, click here.

What other supports are available to students?

Parliament has announced a variety of supports for students who will be without work this summer. In addition to increasing student loan funding and deferring payments on existing loans, Justin Trudeau announced on April 22, 2019 that the government will create thousands of new jobs, extend federal research scholarships and fellowships for graduate and post-graduate students, and provide financial assistance to students gaining valuable experience by volunteering in their communities.

The new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 in education grants to student who volunteer in their communities to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Please note this information is accurate as of it time of publication . We will update this post as more details about the program become available. 

This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2020 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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